Donnybrook Quarter lilac flats. Credit Yev Kazannik
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From Bow to Marbella: photo-essay of Donnybrook Quarter

Donnybrook Quarter is a housing development in Bow, at the intersection of Old Ford Road and Parnell Road. Much like the iconic Cranbrook Estate or Sulkin House, which are built in their own unique style, Donnybrook is an architectural feat – a housing development like no other. 

Donnybrook Quarter consists of three rows of white-washed, gently curved boxy buildings that cast an impressive silhouette against the sky. Stepping into this development is like stepping out of Bow, London and into Marbella, Spain. 

This Mediterranean-inspired design is no accident by the architect, Peter Barber. But it might surprise you to know the style came about at the request of local residents during community consultations in the early to mid-2000s before the project was finished in 2006. 

‘The residents were thinking, “Spain! Holidays! Marbella!” I’m completely happy with that,’ Barber said in an interview.

Once the project was completed, Donnybrook Quarter garnered the attention of the national press with features in The Guardian and the BBC, in part, due to its unique design. But the open, Mediterranean-style design is also part of a wider mission for Barber beyond just aesthetics. 

‘This project is a celebration of the public social life of the street,’ Barber said in an interview.

‘A worrying amount of building in London is done as a gated community. This is a counter-blast to that.’

Walking through the lanes of Donnybrook, you will feel this neighbourly intimacy. Uniquely, the building units themselves have no corridors, entrances or ‘connecting’ spaces. Each room simply opens out into another. The streets themselves are meant to be the corridors, where neighbours can amble across each other. 

Local photographer Yev Kazannick captured the serene beauty of Donnybrook Quarter in spring when the trees were in bloom.

White flats with rounded building in Donnybrook Quarter, Tower Hamlets, East London
White flats with rounded buildings in Donnybrook Quarter. Credit Yev Kazannik
White flats, blue skies and balcony in Donnybrook Quarter, Tower Hamlets, East London
White flats and blue skies in Donnybrook Quarter. Credit Yev Kazannik
White flats with blossom trees in Donnybrook Quarter, Tower Hamlets, East London
White flats and blossom in Donnybrook Quarter. Credit Yev Kazannik
White flats and purple bin in Donnybrook Quarter, Tower Hamlets, East London
Donnybrook Quarter blossom. Credit Yev Kazannik
White flats with pink blossom in Donnybrook Quarter, Tower Hamlets, East London
Donnybrook Quarter blossom tree. Credit Yev Kazannik
Ariel shot in Donnybrook Quarter, Tower Hamlets, East London
Donnybrook Quarter blue skies. Credit Yev Kazannik
Lilac flats in Donnybrook Quarter, Tower Hamlets, East London
Donnybrook Quarter lilac flats. Credit Yev Kazannik
White flats with blue and green doors in Donnybrook Quarter, Tower Hamlets, East London
Donnybrook Quarter. Credit Yev Kazannik
Architect award in Donnybrook Quarter, Tower Hamlets, East London
Architect award Donnybrook Quarter. Credit Yev Kazannik
White flats with blue skies in Donnybrook Quarter, Tower Hamlets, East London
Donnybrook Quarter against blue skies. Credit Yev Kazannik
White flats against a tree in Donnybrook Quarter, Tower Hamlets, East London
Donnybrook Quarter flats. Credit Yev Kazannik
White flats with trees in blossom in Donnybrook Quarter, Tower Hamlets, East London
Donnybrook Quarter trees in bloom. Credit Yev Kazannik
White flats and green doors in Donnybrook Quarter, Tower Hamlets, East London
Donnybrook Quarter homes. Credit Yev Kazannik

White flats and white sky in Donnybrook Quarter, Tower Hamlets, East London
Donnybrook Quarter white flats white skies. Credit Yev Kazannik
White flats in Donnybrook Quarter, Tower Hamlets, East London
Donnybrook Quarter gardens. Credit Yev Kazannik

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2 thoughts on “From Bow to Marbella: photo-essay of Donnybrook Quarter

  • Shame about the lack of storage solutions for the ugly wheelie bins and also the unsightly junction boxes outside. Just a little bit more attention to detail could have really made this development really excellent.

    Reply
  • This is indeed a really lovely and welcome change from the traditional council housing and affordable developments. However the ample ungated communal space, with very narrow gated bottlenecks to prevent cyclists zooming through those corridors, makes it quite Covid- friendly in times of lockdown.
    Which begs to argue that perhaps we do need to completely rethink our public amenity spaces in developments which are predominantly used by large families living in intergenerational homes.

    Reply

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